Morning Joe | November 15, 2012
>>> meanwhile, today congress will hold its first formal inquiry on the deadly raid on the u.s. consulate in benghazi that left four americans dead including ambassador chris stevens . general david petraeus who was scheduled to testify today before he resigned now will testify tomorrow. what he learned from his own independent investigation into the benghazi attack. meanwhile, republican senators from the armed services committee including john mccain and lindsey graham are now calling for a, quote, watergate-style investigation into the libya raid and the obama administration's response to it. they also said they would try to block any attempt to nominate susan rice as the next secretary of state, describing her as unqualified for the job after she originally characterized the terror attack as a protest gone wrong. she went on the sunday shows including "meet the press" a couple days after the attack and said that. president obama in his news conference yesterday fired back at senators mccain and graham.
>> let me say specifically about susan rice , she has done exemplary work. she has represented the united states and our interests in the united nations with skill and professionalism and toughness and grace. if senator mccain and senator graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. and i'm happy to have that discussion with them. but for them to go after the u.n. ambassador who had nothing to do with benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous.
>> those republican senators were quick to respond to the president. lindsey graham took to twitter writing, "mr. president, don't think for one minute i don't hold you ultimately responsible for benghazi ." and senator mccain took his rebuttal to the floor of the senate.
>> we believe whoever it is must be held responsible, i say to the president of the united states , most importantly, the president of the united states who is commander in chief. who so far, in my view, has not exercised those responsibilities and also not informed the american people of the facts.
>> s.e., senator mccain went on to say yesterday there was either gross incompetence here or, in fact, a white house cover-up.
>> what do you think -- and we've asked senator mccain this directly -- what do you think he and others suspect in the matter?
>> well, a couple things. i think it's a little bizarre. the indignation over questioning susan rice is a little bizarre given that she was made by the president's own admission the spokesperson on that day for what happened in benghazi . she was sent out to the sunday shows, five of them, five days after benghazi , and five days after we already had some pretty good intelligence about what happened in benghazi . and either made completely false statements or misled the public. so when the public held that spokesperson responsible for the things that she said, the indignation that came back was a little misplaced, i think. the other thing i would say is there's been a lot of reading into that moment at the press conference and whether that means obama is going to be appointing susan rice now or not. and i think -- i would actually read into that that he probably isn't. i think that that defense was so full-throated because he does not plan to appoint her and doesn't want to be accused of sort of caving to republican pressure. so i think he came out so strongly so that when he doesn't appoint her and goes with someone like john kerry or even tom donelan, his defense is already on record. and he doesn't have to relitigate that again in the press.
>> i'll tell you what i saw yesterday, issue aside, i saw a president with a heightened level of testosterone, gravitas, and maybe a precursor of what he's going to look like the next four years. i saw a definite different kick to his step. obviously, he's been going toe to toe, but there was an authority, there was a -- i'm going to keep using the word "testosterone." a lot of that was missing in the first term, and i found that very interesting, his first kind of public volley eight days later as a harbinger of things to come.
>> he spoke quickly in that press conference. did you notice? it was the fastest i've ever heard him speak. you know, we got accustomed over the past four years to a very slow, methodic kind of elongated speech pattern. and he came out, he was rapid, he was quick.
>> you got a problem? come to me. i found that very interesting.
>> richard, what are you hearing as the most connected in the intelligence community at this table, certainly, about an outcome here with this benghazi investigation? where is this heading right now? how concerned is the white house ?
>> well, the defense of susan rice is going to be not that she was freelancing, not that she was misleading, that she was representing the intelligence talking points that were given to her at the time. so to me, the biggest questions are two, which is why was the initial decisions made to have all of this presence in benghazi with so little security? that's an interesting question. and then the issue is why was the intelligence community so late to the party? why was the intelligence community several days, almost a week into this still supplying policymakers and public spokesmen for the administration with the story that this was somehow related to a video rather than clearly to people who were armed and terrorists? somehow the u.s. government , to say the least, was not all on the same page. why was that? i see less quite honestly as a quote, unquote cover-up, a watergate-type thing is the wrong analogy. it's incompetence and integration between the intelligence community , the diplomats, that side of the administration and the white house , why was it so rough in pulling together what turned out to be a consistent and accurate story?
>> you just hit on the exact questions that i think people in washington are asking, and that's what you find out when you speak to people who are specifically involved in the intelligence community . they have a safe house in bengha benghazi , cia safe house , that apparently the location of it and the fact that it is there is unknown to large elements of the existing diplomatic community in libya at the time, unknown, or it's known to very few people. and it's quite well removed from the consulate. so that's one thing. the other thing that you hear from people in washington is -- and this has nothing to do with susan rice 's credentials or the attack on her by senators graham and mccain -- why was she put out there on these sunday shows? why was it susan race, the united nations ambassador, who had very little to do with the event itself other than reading the paper or reading diplomatic reports about it, why was she the one that was put out there?
>> for that exact reason.
>> it was during -- it was during the course of a presidential campaign . so put the u.n. ambassador out there because, you know --
>> -- you know, she will not get caught up in the campaign. they won't go after her in the course of the campaign.
>> and what we saw, based on yesterday's press conference, is that if the president were to go ahead and nominate susan rice --
>> and he is going to nominate her.
>> i don't think so.
>> i don't think so.
>> he's absolutely going to nominate her.
>> i don't think so.
>> i don't know, but we'll find out soon enough. it's clear it's not going to be a quick, easy conversation. this is going to be a serious nomination hearing, if it is to go forward. it's possible it could be anybody. as you know, with -- not everything in washington is personal. people can use nomination hearings. if senator mccain or graham or any of them want to use the nomination as a way to get to the bottom of benghazi , they can and they will, and there's nothing that stops them from doing it. it's quite possible hillary clinton could be secretary of state for a while as we go through a transition period.
>> the senate hearings tomorrow are closed. what kind of info can we expect to get out of them? what will we know afterwards?
>> that has less to do with what is said than what is leaked.
>> one of the things --
>> i guess we just cross our fingers?
>> no, one of the things they will leak is the united states senate , including senators graham and senator mccain , had the exact same intelligence information that susan rice had and that susan rice spoke to in those appearances.
>> we already know that. we're hoping to get new information out of the hearings tomorrow. there's still unanswered questions.
>> and we'll get our first look at david petraeus since all this exploded less than a week ago.
>>> coming up next, mitt romney reflected on why he lost the analysis and his analysis anger some in his own party. what he said next in the "politico playbook."
>>> also, we'd talk to senator-elect angus king who announced yesterday he will caucus with the democrats. nbc news political director, chuck todd , will be with us along with nbc chief foreign affairs correspondent, andrea mitchell and later, " american idol " judge randy jackson . how's that for a lineup?
>>> first, bill karins with a check on the forecast.
>> don't even fit after randy. not even close. and the sexiest guy alive. rough competition this morning. good morning, everyone. here's what we're dealing with out there. we're a week away from thanksgiving. we don't need any travel headaches as we get towards the busy season. doesn't look like we'll see any. nice and quiet weather conditions. temperatures in the 20s and 30s. just like yesterday. it will be a cold morning and then decent afternoon. a little below average. we'll take it. no rain, no snow throughout any of the northeast and the big airports. we do have some rain this morning if you're driving outside the queen city , charlotte, north carolina , down to columbia and all through the lower portions of charleston, myrtle beach and wilmington. any coastal areas, you're going to be on and off rain. that's really one of the only wet spots we have in the entire country this morning. it's a very quiet day in the midwest. nice weather in texas after a chilly start. a great afternoon. no problems in the northern plains . anyone traveling to the west coast , you look good also. i was talking the last couple days about that next potential coastal storm . we've had a good trend. a further offshore trend. and it does look like that storm's going to have very little impact on everyone trying to clean up from that nor'easter, the devastation from hurricane sandy in the northeast. taking a look from our helicopter, a beautiful look of the sunrise over new york city . the president will be in staten island viewing some of the damage. we'll have those pictures for you. you're watching " morning joe " brewed by starbucks. [ male